A Guide to Aran Knitwear: 5 Aran Stitches You Need to Know
If you’re a man who has an interest in fashion, there is no way you haven’t heard about the Aran sweater, a thick wool knit garment that has been especially popular over the last few years. However, this Irish sweater is more than just a pullover that you wear to protect yourself from the cold: it is an important part of Irish history, a cultural representation of the hard work of the local people. What makes it truly stand out from any other sweater are its intricate patterns and stitches, each with its own special meaning. In case you want to learn more about the symbolism and importance of these stitches, here is a guide to some of the most popular of them.
The cable stitch is the most iconic and well-known of all Aran knitting stitches, widely used to create almost any Aran sweater. It symbolizes the fishermen’s ropes, as back in the day this garment was worn by the fishermen of the Aran Islands when they went out in the sea. Their wives used to knit them a warm and sturdy sweater that would resist any weather and keep them warm even during storms. The cable stitch creates a textured, intertwined pattern that stands out from the other stitches and is meant to be a wish for good luck and safety, so wear an Aran sweater that features this stitch on those days when you feel like you need a bit of the luck of the Irish.
Just like the cable knit, the honeycomb stitch was a wish for the fishermen to have good luck and a big catch when they were going to work. It is a representation of the hard work and sweet rewards, hence the direct resemblance with a bee’s honeycomb. Since it is such a distinctive stitch, it is often used in combination with other patterns like the cable stitch or the blackberry one to create a sophisticated and complicated design which makes the garment unique. On ShamrockGift, there are plenty of Aran sweaters, as well as a lot of other men’s clothing garments made in Ireland featuring both this stitch and many others that we discuss in this article.
The diamond stitch is another popular pattern that, as the name suggests, creates a diamond-like shape and is used to make the overall design have more texture and visual interest. Back in the day, the locals of the Aran Islands used to incorporate elements of their everyday life like the landscapes and cliffs into their knitwear, so the diamond stitch is not only a symbol of wealth and success, but it also represents the small farms that were dotted all across the islands. An Aran sweater with a diamond stitch is a must-have item to wear for special events, as it is sure to make things turn in your favor!
As we’ve previously mentioned, the locals of the Aran Islands loved to reflect the beauties of their nature in their knitworks, and the blackberry stitch is another example of a decorative element used to show off the riches of their landscapes. This stitch is usually found as a filler for the diamond pattern, since it makes the texture of the sweater look richer and more complex. Apart from its obvious meaning of resembling a blackberry, it is also known as the trinity stitch and has religious connotations, being a symbol of the Holy Trinity.
Tree of Life
The Tree of Life, also sometimes referred to as the Ladder of Life, is a popular motif not only for knitting, but it also is often featured on Irish jewelry as well. This stitch has multiple origin stories, as in the Bible it represented the tree that connected heavens to the underworld, while in the Celtic mythology it was a symbol of strength and wisdom. Today, the Tree of Life is a popular Aran stitch used to represent the importance of the ancestors and a strong connection between family members, which makes such a sweater especially suitable for family dinners and other celebrations.